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Nantucket #2

The Castaways

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Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy's closest friends for what will be revealed.

Once again, Hilderbrand masterfully weaves an intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life.

359 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Elin Hilderbrand

75 books38.4k followers
Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her five previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

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5 stars
10,236 (22%)
4 stars
17,805 (38%)
3 stars
13,892 (30%)
2 stars
3,187 (6%)
1 star
759 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,938 reviews
Profile Image for Mandy.
320 reviews332 followers
February 2, 2016
This is by far my favorite Elin Hilderbrand novel. I was so emotionally invested in it from the first page and I had a hard time not reading it. I had to know what happened to Greg and Tess. Such a moving book and loved the ending. 5 stars for sure ;) this needs to be a movie and I can't understand why it hasn't been made into one yet! Loved this book! It made me sad, happy, mad.... A little bit of everything, which is what great books do!
Profile Image for Linda C.
171 reviews
January 14, 2012
This book disproves the idea that it is hard to get a book published. It is published and it is absolutely ghastly. What a waste of time!

The only good thing that I can saw about wasting the day reading it was that it was supposed to be snowing, so there wasn't much else to do. The kids were home watching movies or using the computer and all their activities were cancelled because of the snow. This is a book to read either on a snow day or a beach day, and only then if you don't expect much. I would suggest the beach with a strong drink, that way, your expectations will be lower.

This women has serious need of an editor; the writing was sophomoric at best. I am surprised by the number of people who rated this book 3 or 4 stars. Clearly, they need to be exposed to better literature. However, I did sort of finish the book, although painful, it wasn't bad enough to give up on, but the last 30 pages I really skimmed through. I was so thoroughly sick of these people that I wanted it to end. I didn't care of Greg killed Tess or not.

Samples of the so-called writing: "Now, however, she was his."

"Tess's arms locked around him. He pulled her in. She was his now. Did she know it?"

"The little Gidget girl is hot."

"The kiss was the right thing. He kissed her again. And again."

"He felt guilty stealing it. But then, guess what?"

"Phoebe called him Reedy, Reeder, Freebird, Sweet Reedy Bird." Sweet Reedy Bird-- what the hell is that? If I had ever called my brother Sweet Anything Bird, he would have punched me.

Not to mention the things that are just factually wrong, i.e. Phoebe having an amnio at 11 weeks. That medically just doesn't happen.

When I was in journalism school, we (the newspaper writers) called the broadcast majors "the see spot run" school of journalism-- no sentence over five words. This book is the see-spot-run school of fiction writing--no sentence over five words.

The best part of the book was the description of the food and drinks that they consumed, and they did drink a lot. In fact, now that I think about it, food writing or cookbook writing would be a perfect career for this woman. She wrote about food beautifully. Too bad the rest of the book was so bad.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
733 reviews14 followers
October 30, 2009
Let me begin by saying I truly enjoy "chick-lit". On top of that, I have truly enjoyed several of Hilderbrand's other novels (albeit before I joined Good Reads).

However, I read someone else's review of this book, and although most people loved it, at least one person agreed with me - - - what are these so-called "friends" doing, sleeping around or WANTING to sleep around with each other? And can you really feel sympathy or warmth toward a character that so blithely throws away their own family life to harbor a secret crush that goes on for years? For as surely as this is the story of the drowning of 2 of 8 friends, this is a story of how people can get caught up in wanting what they don't have and having that desire ultimately lead to betrayal of the very ones they cherish.

I would have given this one star, except about 2/3rds of the way through, the actual unraveling of who did what in the days preceding the tragedy WAS interesting. Simply not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Brenda.
179 reviews3 followers
September 11, 2009
Just don't read this book. Too many married people sleeping around, too much profanity, too much drug & alcohol use. I knew it would be a 'light read' but this was just junk - not in the way that an occasional candy bar is junk and fun to eat anyway - but junk in a way that I didn't even enjoy for the lighthearted fare it was supposed to be.
Profile Image for Mary.
643 reviews
December 3, 2015
This was a typical Hilderbrand tale, which isn't a bad thing. My problem was trying to keep all the couples straight. I couldn't for the life of me remember who was with who. The story was good, but with a very dopey wrap it all up in a pretty bow ending. I don't know why I keep going back to her work, I'm rarely satisfied.
Profile Image for Lori.
834 reviews54 followers
September 18, 2009
I couldn't get into this book, it was all over the place. Very rarely do I ever not finish a book I started reading even if I have to suffer through. The older I get the more I realize that life is too short to read less then at least good books. I couldn't even make it halfway through. Sorry, I tried.
Profile Image for Cait Grey.
2 reviews2 followers
June 20, 2011
I didn't go in with very high expectations, which allowed me to enjoy the book for what it is: a perfect-for-the-poolside, perfectly shallow summer read. Admittedly, it's not so great; the character development from their youth to pre-accident was believable, but the development after the deaths of the MacAvoys was less actual, logical development and more like Hildebrand was casting the melodramatic ideal of soap opera-brand grief on her characters without caring if their actions reflected at all on who they were before the accident. Several of the sub-plots were interesting, but they either petered out with no proper follow-through to round them out, or ended anticlimactically. In fact, the entire book ended on a rather anticlimactic and unsatisfying note. The grammar was, at times, in desperate need of a makeover, and her writing style became choppy in places, which distracted me from the actual story more than once.

It wasn't an awful read, though. It's charming at times, and it doesn't require a ton of brain power to get into; it's a nice, sparingly scintillating (but mostly relaxing) vacation for the brain. With a little more work, it could have been brought up to a higher standard, but I tried not to go into it with high standards to begin with, because I don't think this book is trying to be anything it's not. I prefer more intellectually demanding and culturally relevant books most of the time, but I have the occasional fling with a book like The Castaways and I enjoy it for what it is: quick, dirty, lacking in any deep connection or emotional response, but ultimately fun.
Profile Image for Deanna .
687 reviews12.5k followers
April 4, 2015
I quite enjoyed The Castaways. I did read it some time ago and thought I already wrote a review.
In the Castaways a group friends that have to deal with the death of two of their best friends. It did have many points of view so I had to pay close attention at times but I enjoyed knowing what others were thinking. There was a lot going on in this group of friends. A lot of partying which may turn some people off but it was right for this group of friends. Didn't like all characters but people aren't perfect and there are many different types in this group. Also seeing the many different ways in which people deal with grief was a good part of the book. It was an easy read and perfect for summer.
Profile Image for Chloe (Always Booked).
2,072 reviews127 followers
July 12, 2018
I'd give this book a 2.5 stars. I am so sad I didn't enjoy it! I love Elin- but this one was not very good.
This story is about 4 couples. It took me like 1/3 of the book to even keep them all straight. Complicating it further was the fact that all of them were sleeping with each other, had a romantic history, or were related. The story starts off when one couple (Greg and Tess) are killed in a sailing accident. The friend group (who called themselves "The Castaways") are all devastated (as you would be), and the story is about trying to figure out what happened to Greg and Tess as well as trying to mourn.
Phoebe and Addison are one couple. She is on a bunch of depression meds, etc. She's skinny, diets and works out a lot, and cares a lot about her appearance. She actually gets better throughout the story and goes off meds and rediscovers the joy in life. Addison is a real estate agent who has been having an affair with Tess. They're very wealthy and used to getting their way.
Delilah and Jeffrey are another couple and they don't even have much of a story. They couldve been cut, in my opinion. They have kids that are good friends with Greg and Tess' kids. Delilah decides to run away with all 4 kids, but after a night she changes her mind and comes home Jeffrey used to date Andrea.
Andrea and Chief are the oldest couple and Andrea is Tess' older cousin. She goes off her rocker and cant function after Tess' death. They are the guardians of the kids, but shes so depressed she cant do it so Delilah steps in.
Greg, a HS music teacher, was also potentially having an affair with one of his students. In an attempt to get attention, she said he abused her but then that blew over and they were still secretly spending time together. We know they were together the night before the crash but its not revealed until the end that he was just telling her it was over because he loved his wife.
The whole book, people are trying to figure out if this was really an accident. Did Tess tell Greg about the affair and he killed her? Toxicology said she had opiates in her blood. Did she OD and something happened? For all the build up I expected a twist, but nope- it was just an accident and they both died trying to save each other (insert Awwwwww here?).
In the end, everyone stays with their respective spouses and I guess were supposed to be happy about it.
This book was so much about shady moral character, affairs, lusting after your friends, jealousy-- the tragedy of the crash was put in the background. It was hard to keep straight, let alone care about the characters. I guarantee Ill forget this book in a week or less. It was also too long and Erin used the word “said” waaaay too much! I would not recommend.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jenny Jo Weir.
1,549 reviews79 followers
April 1, 2022
Elin is great a creating a complex cast with tons of back stories. There is a lot to unpack in this one and everyone has their own things to work through and deal with. I like the complexity of her story lines and the characters. I could do without the cheating, but other than that, it's a solid read.
Profile Image for Jeanne Julian.
Author 7 books4 followers
April 29, 2013
There were only 2 of us in our book group who really liked this book. The other person said she approached it as a "beach book" and enjoyed it as such. I agreed, but I think I give it more credit than that, too. We've read a number of other contemporary novels "formatted" this way, with the chapters each dedicated to a character, told from his or her point of view. I've come to think this trend is in many cases just an easier way for authors to organize their material and move it along, rather than going to the trouble of fashioning a plot. And usually, I've had to flip back to remind myself whose point of view I was currently reading--the characters or their voices weren't distinct enough. But with The Castaways, the format works: each perspective provides a piece of a puzzle: the mystery of how and why a married couple, part of a group of longtime friends, died in a boating accident--ah! but WAS it an accident? And, these people's personalities were clear to me, unlike those in some of those other "beach reads." Okay, so it was soap-opera-ish--that was fine, that's the stuff of all fiction, isn't it? Occasionally the characters do seem to go overboard (excuse the pun) in an out-of-character fashion, but not completely unrealistically. And occasionally, the writing clunks badly: "his spirit was the frilled brown edge of a badly fried egg" and "the roof was draped with crimson climbing roses, like the back of the winning Kentucky Derby horse." But mostly it's aptly descriptive without being overblown. The setting--Nantucket--is unique, fun. So, what bugged my fellow book group members? They found these characters too disturbingly despicable to appreciate. Too much booze, too much flirtation and/or infidelity, too much dishonesty, too little ability to get their acts together, be smarter, and most of all, BEHAVE. But isn't all that the stuff of Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joyce Carol Oates...? So stroll to a beach with a cocktail (a recipe is provided in the paperback edition, which is perhaps an indication of the spirit in which this book should be consumed) in one hand and this nicely crafted page-turner in the other, and relax.
Profile Image for Just - The romance reader.
549 reviews32 followers
May 30, 2010
I give this book two stars instead of one because I haven't actually read the entire book yet. (Honestly, I'm not sure if I will pick it back up later and attempt to.) I really enjoyed "A Summer Affair" so I was excited about "Barefoot" but it just didn't pull me in, so I put it down and moved on to something else after a chapter or two. I had hopes that it was just a fluke and I would eagerly devour "The Castaways".

Hilderbrand has come up with a great plot. Four couples living in Nantucket, suddenly become three when the MacAvoy's drown in a freak sailing accident. The couple is spending a day on the water celebrating their anniversary after an especially tough year for their marriage. Greg and Tess MacAvoy leave behind two young children, along with a few secrets and questions. As the remaining three couples mourn the loss of their dear friends they are forced to face emotions and conflicts that have been brewing over time.

Sounds like a great story right? The book starts with the revelation of the MacAvoy's deaths. Next the remaining three couples are introduced individually. There is A LOT of backstory, and that's where I lose interest. Some backstory and review of the characters lives and relationships is necessary, but segments are written from the perspective of each of the remaining six characters, and it skips around making it hard to keep up with who is talking.
Profile Image for Trisha.
267 reviews26 followers
August 20, 2010
I could not finish this book. I found the writing boring, confusing and not believable at all. The book seemed to ramble on a lot, I kept thinking to myself-'who cares?' at certain parts of the book. The book was confusing with all the different characters. For example, on page 42.. Let me remind you that this is still towards the beginning of the book, their are 8 people in this story and this is the beginning of the book I am still trying to remember names and the author throws names out right in a row in this book.. It says:
"Greg and the Chief and Andrea got up early and walked to New York New York for Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Addison and Tess and Delilah went to the Bellagio to see the impressionist collection. Andrea and Addison and Delilah and Greg were addicted to slot machines;"
When I read this I was like "woah!" That was just way too many of their names thrown in there together and I had no clue who they were as characters yet.
I also could not believe that these people were supposed to be best friends but every one of them were pining for another friend's husband or wife. I could have seen it credible if a couple of them were attracted to another couple's spouse, but not every single one of them!
I tried to read this but I just couldn't. I wrote a review for it because a review copy was sent to me.
148 reviews
April 6, 2013
There are eight main characters in this book comprised of four married couples.

The chapters move back and forth between all eight, causing it to be difficult at first for me to keep them - and their intertwined relationships - straight. I actually made a freaking chart to keep all the characters and their issues straight.

It was a beautiful chart: solid lines connecting the married couples and dotted lines connecting the affairs and other intrigues. I know, I'm way too analytical, but at least I didn't color code it.

A couple of the men were still strangers to me by the end of the book. I would have preferred less characters and more character development, but that would have changed the genre of the book.

The story resolved itself predictably by the last chapter, making it a decent read for when you want to escape daily life.
What I liked best were the Nantucket backdrop and my chart.

Profile Image for Rachel.
246 reviews38 followers
July 6, 2012
I really wanted this to be the perfect summer read but I had trouble with it from the start. The writing from multiple points of view was not interesting for me, but instead rather hard to follow, and I found myself flipping back to remind myself who characters were far too often. About 100 pages in, it was a tad clearer, but I never really got into the story. For 300 pages of character build-up, I was hoping for a twist at the end, but instead the ending unveiled what the reader would've already figured out from a story that was filled with far too much foreshadowing. I finished it feeling disappointed. This was the first book I've read by this author, and I've heard that her other books are not written in the same style, so I'll probably give her another try, but not right away.
Profile Image for Rachel Peacock.
3 reviews3 followers
August 11, 2017
This was a long long walk to nowhere. Excruciatingly detailed dialogue and flashbacks leading to the most boring ending. This book offered nothing. All of the characters are unlikable and nothing exciting happens. And it was sooo long!
Profile Image for Shea.
524 reviews43 followers
September 20, 2011
I'm not really sure how I felt about this book. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it...so I settled on "it was okay."
I thought there were too many narrators for the story. A lot of times when I'm reading novel, I'll think I wonder what so-and-so is thinking but I think this took it to an extreme. Six points of view is a bit much, if you ask me. But, I also think it would be weird if the story was about six friends and some were left out, point of view-wise...well, actually, now that I think of it, I think the story would have worked fine if you only got maybe one of each couple's POV? It would have maybe added a little more suspense to the story and I think it would have let the reader get to know those characters a little better. I think it's strange, that usually author's use a certain character's POV so the reader relates or sympathizes with that character, but about halfway through this I thought to myself Do I even like any of these characters? Honestly, out of the six, I'd say I like Jeffrey and the Chief, who strangely enough (or maybe not), are the ones who have the least storylines.
I also found the group to be way too incestuous. If you're going to cheat on your spouse, why do it with one of your (and their) friends? I felt like it wasn't believable that all the couples had some sort of infidelity going on.
I did think it was a good portrayal of grief though, how people respond differently and blame themselves.
Profile Image for Leonel.
419 reviews4 followers
February 19, 2014
It seemed a good idea: reading this book, Elin Hilderbrand's "The Castaways." the book started out great: a couple dies in a boating accident, and three other couples who they are good friends with are severely affected by their loss. I kind of was drawn in by what could have really happened, as well as the repercussions the incident will do to their friendships. But as I discovered more and more about the characters, I found myself disliking them immensely: drug addicts, depressives, liars. It seems like they didn't really value each other's companies. 75% into the book, and we are still getting back stories on one of the characters. At a certain point, I ceased caring about them, and by the time all the knots were tied up, I started rolling my eyes. I also found that the writing immature and sophomoric, like it needed more editing and guidance. I couldn't wait ti get away from these people, and was kind of relieved when I finally finished the book.

http://luhathoughts.blogspot.com/2014...
194 reviews1 follower
July 9, 2010
Elin Hilderbrand is a master at character development. You know what the characters think, wear, eat for lunch, and what they thought, wore and ate for lunch 20 years ago, too. I enjoy that type of character development. That being said, what I find odd about her books is the fact that her characters seem to have a heightened sense of responsibility and integrity in some areas and are totally lacking in morals or conscience in other, more obvious areas. Characters have extra-marital affairs without anyone really blinking an eye and yet everyone is just crushed over the idea that they were somehow personally responsible for the boating deaths of the two main characters because no one stopped a mediocre boater from taking the boat out on a windy day. So there's a disconnect there for me. I enjoyed the story an would probably give it a 3.5 but there were definitely times when I wanted to shout to all the characters "pull yourselves together, people."
Profile Image for Wendy.
94 reviews
June 30, 2023
3.5… the characters of this book were very messy which I enjoyed but I think there was a lot of unresolved plot points that were significant enough to require resolution. for example, it was not clear that andrea’s grief ever lessened and her terrible parenting was very concerning but the kids went back to stay with her? I get that delilah showed that she was also unfit when she basically kidnapped them for the day but I think it should have been more emphasized that andrea had recovered and was ready to take on her position as mother. secondly, the way april peck was talked about was kind of revolting. the fact that she was framed by almost every character in the book as being so seductive and purposefully out to get greg who just couldn’t resist her even though he was ~35 and she was 17?? i can understand saying that she was the one who advanced first and she was trying to seduce him but it felt like there was very little blame placed on greg who was the actual adult. there are some smaller things too but I won’t go into that much detail. overall an entertaining read, but I think there was just too much going on for it to be clearly resolved enough
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,340 reviews228 followers
May 22, 2023
4.5 of 5 stars

When Prominent Nantucket couple Tess and Greg die in a sailing accident, their friends are left with questions as secret affairs and relationships are uncovered. Were there deaths truly accidents, or did something more sinister happen on the salty Atlantic waters?

Told in multiple POVs by the friends and family of Tess and Greg, readers are privy to secrets the characters don't share with each other. Elin Hilderbrand is one of my favorite writers, but CASTAWAY isn't one of my favorite of Hilderbrand's books. She could have done a better job distinguishing the voices between POVs, and creating more tension to fasten the pace. However, CASTAWAYS was a fun beach read, though not one that stayed with me after I finished the last chapter. I kept expecting something with more depth to appear in the pages, but unfortunately that never happened. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
Profile Image for KathyB .
1,483 reviews47 followers
July 13, 2020
I've enjoyed other books by Elin Hilderbrand, but this one was meh. The plot was slow, and the cast wasn't very likable. The only thing that kept me interested was the mystery surrounding the sailing accident. It was a slow reveal which was decent, overall I was happy with the ending.

With that said, there are better novels by this author. If you've never read anything by her I'd definitely recommend starting with a different book.
Profile Image for Kris.
37 reviews
August 25, 2020
While this one wasn’t perfect - it was SO much better than Beautiful day! The characters were interesting, the friendships desirable and the story satisfying. It was a perfect summer read!
Profile Image for Ann.
781 reviews
August 27, 2023
All of Elin’s books are good summer (or anytime) reads. There are 8 main characters with 6 kids in this book so I was probably halfway through before I could keep them all straight!
3 reviews2 followers
April 16, 2013
I enjoyed The Castaways, it delivered and was a fine, easy read. A book like this has its faults when it comes to believability of characters and their actions, but I find value in the fantasy of those characters’ lives. For example, that these four couples could remain friends for so long and have the time and means to take extravagant vacations together – even after having children, or that Nantucket is a magical place filled with attractive people with interesting back-stories, beautiful landscapes, and always good food.

I put this book into a different category than other books that I enjoyed reading (think Time Traveler’s Wife, Poisonwood Bible, Gone Girl etc.). I remember the titles and plots of those other books even though I read a couple of them many years ago. I will likely not remember the title of The Castaways in another week. I have already downloaded another book by this author and am curious to see how it plays out. I have my own predictions (i.e. very similar to The Castaways), but maybe she will surprise me. Again, I am ok with predictability. I read Grisham and Nicholas Sparks, knowing exactly what each will give me, and yet I keep going back. I think these books/authors are my guilty pleasures, and I will be adding Elin Hilderbrand to this club.
Profile Image for Erin.
3,094 reviews484 followers
March 5, 2016
Similar to Luanne Rice,Nora Roberts, and Kristin Hannah, there is just something about Elin Hilderbrand that keeps me turning the pages. Even when I'm not really sure if I liked the characters or the plot. The three stars is really that even against my better judgement I was sucked in. But I'm still going to rant about what I didn't like.

The book is narrated by the three couples that are friends with Greg and Tina, the couple that dies, and there is a lot of reminiscing about their relationship to each other. I'm not sure that I hold the opinion that everyone is just looking to sleep with their best friends husband or wife. And honestly I'm so *bleeping* tired of married women characters in books/ movies/tv that somehow think the sex with their high school boyfriend was so much better. Seriously?? I'm not married though, so maybe married women do think that?

Whew! Now that I've got that little rant off my chest, I will reiterate that this book is highly readable. A good read for the beach. I believe that Delilah was my favorite character in the book.
Profile Image for Laura de Leon.
1,102 reviews28 followers
July 6, 2009
I really enjoyed this book. I read it pretty much straight through.

I was impressed from the beginning, when the 8 main characters were introduced in a way that allowed me to keep track of them. This is usually a challenge for me. All 8 of them were real people to me, with good points and flaws. I was very frustrated with some of the them at times, which shows the writing drew me in enough to care.

I liked the way the story built and unfolded. I learned more about the characters, The picture of what happened to Greg and Tess continued to be revealed a little at a time, until we had the full story at the end.

Primarily, this was a book about the characters. I think it succeeded well at this.



Profile Image for Megan.
116 reviews
June 23, 2011
My mom always picks out summer reads that are about groups of friends (women, mostly). This one was a bit different; it was about a group of friends who are all couples. What happens when one of the couples dies? How do those friendships go on, and how do those different friends deal with grief?

It definitely was a summer read, not one that has terribly deep insights but it is fun to be reminded how intertwined our lives are with some of those around us. And maybe I just needed to read a book about grieving.
September 2, 2009
Really liked Hilderbrand's, Barefoot, but this book was boring. Her characters were supposed to be grown ups but all acted like children. I kept waiting for them to get a grip on things but none of them did until the very end. This book deals with 4 sets of friends all dealing with the deaths of 2 of them and how they all blamed themselves for their deaths. Enough of the guilt...would not recommend. There are too many other really great books to read.
Profile Image for Kacie.
79 reviews2 followers
January 25, 2021
Disappointing. I was drawn in by wanting to know the backstory, if something horrible other than a boating accident was the cause of Greg & Tess’ deaths. Except there was so much backstory with so much infidelity (between friends!) that it all became to be too soap-opera like & guess what?! The conclusion is that it was ... a boating accident.
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